Thursday, May 19, 2011

Monday April 4, 12:50 p.m.

Amazing the difference one night makes. Charlie Sheen was virtually run out of town in Detroit after the horrible debut of his "Violent Torpedoes of Truth" on Saturday. Well, Chicagoans were prepared to adopt him as their native son last night. I'm not sure if it was so much the amendments...I think it was also the fact that Chicago seems to be more in synch with Sheen's brand of spoken-word lunacy. Maybe "Second City" was a good primer. In any case, the audience gave him not one but two standing ovations.

Last Sunday was the day of religion. Yesterday was the day of old friends and comfort food. I met Shard at our usual haunt of The Mad for a mess of wings and fries. The Mad was quite a bit more populated since it was a regular Sunday rather than a holiday weekday in Toronto. It was the usual talk of books, music and work. We extended our time together through a browsing session in BMV, the discount book store, and then coffee in the neighbourhood Starbucks. There, we got on the topic of music which shifted into a talk on my old dusty collection of 80s music from the radio on ancient Canadian Tire cassette tapes. Shard's usually stern eyes bounced since he could possibly track down some long lost remix gems among my collection and then burn them onto CD. I told him I'll follow up on it. I took a quick peek into the living room cabinet, and yep, they're there, although I can't vouch for the quality of of something that's nearly 30 years old.

Then, I went to meet my other old friend. CG and his family were watching the Jays game at Skydome (the Jays lost a close heartbreaker but the fans were still happy at the rocket-like launch of their team), so I streamed through the hordes of blue-clad yahoos and met Chip Guy in front of a sports bar across from The Dome. His wife had already gone on ahead to The Mongolian Grill in Agincourt.

The drive out of the parking lot itself took 40 minutes since there was a massive exodus, but Chip Guy and I didn't mind. We just used the wait time to catch up on stuff. There may also be some changes ahead for CG and his family. My old friend is rather pragmatic, and so if he can't find a better job to his liking in Toronto, he is more than willing to uproot his clan and head down Stateside. Selling his place is virtually a done deal since he found out that the country's 2nd-largest mall would be build just a stone's-throw away.

We finally did get out of Harbourfront, but the traffic remained heavy almost all the way to Agincourt. So, after a 90-minute ride, we arrived at The Mongolian Grill. I wasn't all that hungry after the mountain of wings but I was still able to hold up my end. CG's sister-in-law and nephew whom I'd met years ago when CG had still been living in Daikanyama were also visiting for the same reason I was: to escape from any potential nuclear meltdown disasters. Things in Fukushima have come to a somewhat stable if still worrying state, so the sister-in-law and nephew will be returning to Tokyo in a few days after 2 weeks in The Great White North. The sister-in-law and I traded our quake experiences. The waitresses could speak some Japanese, and our departure was delayed by a few minutes as CG's wife and sister-in-law had a chat with several of the staffers including the manager. CG and I will try to get together, perhaps even with The Entrepreneur, although now that I'm at the halfway point of my exile, scheduling will start to increasingly dicey.

Toronto's reputation for wacky weather is still intact. After gloriously warm weather in Elmira on Saturday, it started snowing last night only to be replaced by Spring showers this morning.

1:30 p.m.

Dad and I went out to Eglinton Square this morning. He got his walk while I got my e-mail in the local library. Speedy and MB informed me that things are normalizing quite nicely which is reassuring to hear even with some of the gloom-and-doom news from Fukushima. One TEPCO operator was in tears as he gave the sad but inevitable news that the radioactive water that had been piling up in the reactor pools had to be jettisoned into the Pacific. The TEPCO workers have been attempting a number of solutions to stem the flow, but it seems like they can't catch a single break.

Even LaFille sent me a Facebook message stating that Ms. Efficiency had completed her last day last week. The bossman even brought cake for everyone for the occasion although I'm not sure how hard he had to bite his tongue. Certainly, she's not going to be missed by me.

The Wild Guy contacted me about possibly getting together on the 16th with Automan and The Tea Lady for dinner. He even laid a minor bombshell by stating that he's even considering a Tokyo. I knew my friend wanted to get out of Toronto but to head out to Japan at this time seems just a tad too risky.

Last night, after getting home, I caught some rather interesting TV. The newest "Family Guy" episode had improved animation, no Cleveland Brown, and for the first time (at least for me), actual drama when Brian opted to sacrifice his life by giving his two kidneys to Peter. Seth McFarlane tried to lighten the mood with the usual anarchic gags but this time, there was no denying that there was gravitas in this very special episode. The Obama-in-Golden-Fat Elvis attire was a bit jarring, though.

I also caught "Robot Chicken's" skewering of "Star Wars". Now that "Family Guy" may be mellowing, Seth Green's show may be the only cutting-edge risque comedy left out there.

Then I watched the last bit of "The House on Haunted Hill" the 1999 version. It was remarkable to watch for the cast of genre types such as Famke Janssen and Ali Larter, and one Oscar winner, Geoffrey Rush. Perhaps I've gotted used to the few gory scenes of torture porn but the movie didn't particularly have me rushing under my covers despite the copious amounts of blood.
Sunday April 3, 8:41 a.m.

Woke up early for my weekly bacon-and-Eggo breakfast. Can't really seem to wake up late anymore. It's apparently a fact that old people seem to be awake longer, probably so that they can get as much out of life as possible in their remaining days. Sometimes, though, with all I've seen and heard over the past 3 weeks, I wouldn't mind shutting things out a bit more.

Hollywood's most recent whack job of the year, Charlie Sheen, thought he could get more sympathy and even make some bling by going on a one-man stage show throughout the States and Canada. I'm sure everyone had an opinion on the results but I waited. He may be a disturbed man but he had actually come across somewhat lucidly on Piers Morgan a few weeks back, and he had been part of TV's most popular sitcom. So there was a chance that his show could've been a delightful revelation.
However, last night's inaugural show in Detroit may have put a few more nails into Sheen's coffin. He was apparently booed off the stage and streams of disgruntled spectators were seen coming out of the theatre yelling "REFUND!" and gesturing thumbs-down like an especially angry Roger Ebert. In a strange way, Charlie Sheen's folly reminds me of that supposed Aussie genius/madman piano player from the movie "Shine" played by Geoffrey Rush. The movie built up so much goodwill for this fellow but when the real guy went on tour, the critics were left unimpressed.
Now, a lot of performers would probably end up in a fetal position in the corner of their dressing room after such a visceral reaction from the audience. But this is Charlie Sheen. And this is his ego. And anything can happen. I'm sure there will be another show, albeit with some major tweaking but Sheen's gonna have to come up with a strikeout pitch on a par with that from "Wild Thing" Vaughan.
Thursday May 19, 4:05 p.m.

Well, I've sent that e-mail to Cozy telling him about my plans to head back to The Great White North permanently in December and then asking him if he can be my apartment guarantor for the remaining 7 months of my stay. Frankly, the juku boss was not optimistic and I know how heavy the responsibility is perceived, so neither am I. However, I used my best keigo on the message. I'm happy I'm getting this off the ground now since the three of us are planning to have our annual dinner on June 12; hopefully, some of the awkwardness will have dissipated by then.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thursday May 19, 1:02 p.m.

It's La Fille's last day with us at Speedy's. She, along with Ray, made for a good tandem of administrators here at the school for the last couple of years, and managed to survive the onslaught of Ms. Efficiency. With her departure tonight, our school will probably have no support help for the next little while, or for perhaps the rest of the life of this school, if things don't look up for us soon. Ms. Schmooze is nominally with us but her appearances here have been increasingly rare.

Still, an old face will be showing up to take a look at the relatively new digs of Speedy. AK will be joining us for La Fille's farewell dinner tonight and then the three of us along with the bossman will head out for some place nearby.

It's looking bleaker for Japan itself. The country's economic output shrank 18% this past quarter due to the quake, tsunami and nuclear issues, the worst drop since this stat has been recorded. So, we're officially in recession once again after a fragile but hopeful sign of recovery. I can only wonder if we're gonna be given the label of "Charlie Brown of the world". Just can't seem to win.

Thursday May 19, 12:12 p.m.

I've been going through two volumes of comics from each side of the Pacific. One is the latest in "The Complete Peanuts" for 1979-1980. Yep 30 years down, another 20 to go. I'm safely in the zone between Schulz's heyday with Charlie Brown and the gang and before his drawing got very fuzzy. However, I can see the beginnings of the shift of focus from Chuck and Lucy and Snoopy to Snoopy and Peppermint Patty to Marcie. It's been interesting to come across plots that I hadn't seen before such as Charlie Brown's month-long hospital stay and the romance between Peppermint Patty and Pig-Pen.
And I have just finished the manga series, "Hikaru no Go". I started collecting the Japanese comic starring the kid destined to become an I-Go champion several years back when the game was still very much on my mind. Unfortunately the final volume No. 23 frankly ends the series on a limp note...something that The Anime King had warned me about sometime ago. The last book mostly deals with the Hokuto Cup championship itself and its aftermath. The fact that Hikaru doesn't miraculously win the game or that his rivals don't even grudgingly salute his prowess was actually quite refreshing and bluntly realistic, but it just seemed that the author, Yumi Hotta, had basically run out of steam by that point and just quickly and strangely threw the focus of the last several pages on a couple of kids who may be representing the next generation of players. At that point, I just whizzed through the pages to the end.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Saturday April 2, 10:42 p.m.

It was a long day but quite fruitful. I met up with Automan's own crew apart from the JCSA at Finch Station for the day trip to the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival. There was quite a convoy of cars which included that of The Anime Chamberlain. The crew included a number of Japanese students and Canadian folks to total a motley 23. I was in a car whose driver was a soft-spoken Japanese-Canadian who had been on the JET Programme a few years ago. We had a good talk about our former employer, and the consensus was that the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme has had its day and that it should either be put to sleep or overhauled.

The Elmira Festival was what it was: a full-fledged celebration with an entire town shut down to show off maple syrup amongst other food stands. And it attracted a huge mass of humanity. We didn't get to see how maple syrup was produced since the lineup for the Sugar Bush tour was at Tokyo levels. However we did get our huge pancakes with the patented syrup. The flapjacks were pretty dense so a lot of our group couldn't finish them.

Our remaining 90 minutes in Elmira were spent walking up and down the main street as the stands hawked everything from funnel cakes to whole BBQ turkey legs. One thing was for sure: noone would go hungry in this town...provided he/she had the cash.

The trip back to Toronto ended at the regular venue for Automan's group, the Cafe Urbana at the corner of Bay and Wellesley. There was also a language exchange. I was placed with one young lady who had been on the trip and a young man who hadn't. They were quite accepting of my presence but I sometimes felt like the third wheel of a bicycle.

After 90 minutes of that, the remaining crew walked over to Yonge and Bloor for dinner. I decided to head on home since I was running low on funds, but I thought that I could join them for one more session in a couple of weeks. Sunday should also be an all-day affair although I won't have to leave at the eye-blearingly early hour of 7 a.m. I'm meeting Shard for lunch at The Mad, and we may even drop by BMV to search for some used books. Then, I'll have to brave the baseball-loving hordes at, sorry, Rogers meet Chip Guy and his family for dinner. It may be rather nuts getting out of the area at the end of the game. Hopefully, the Jays will sweep the Twins.

I made some more arrangements by phone. Looks like The Egg won't be available this coming Tuesday after all, so it'll be the following Monday. And The Tea Lady called up to catch a movie with her this Friday.

Friday April 1, 9:00 p.m.

After getting some of the steam out of my mouth at The St. Lawrence Market, I also went to the Mecca of Molsons, the Hockey Hall of Fame. Living in a country where hockey is more of a curiosity than a national sport (even scandal-ridden sumo will still get far more fans), it's always nice to come back home and get a bit of that old style hockey in my eyes and ears again. For Japan, admission was pretty reasonable at $15, and I was able to see some of those amazing pics from classics like The Canada Cup with Paul Henderson getting that legendary goal against the Soviets. Of course, players like
Wayne "The Great One" Gretzky and Mats Sundin were up there plus the really old days from the 30s and 40s.

I also loved seeing the old-style facehugger masks from the 70s. They may not be nearly as safe as the current cage types but they had a lot more style in their design.

Friday April 1, 8:54 p.m.

Finally started my tour of all things Toronto. Went down to Union Station and crossed over to Old Toronto. Took pictures there including one of the photogenic Gooderham (or Flatiron) Building on Front St. I noticed with some amusement that the former O'Keefe, the former Hummingbird is now The Sony Theatre which kinda reminded me of those days in the 80s when the Japanese had bought up swathes of New York City.

It's embarrassing to admit this as a lifelong Torontonian but I'd never entered the St. Lawrence Market until this morning. It was just a tourist attraction that I'd always heard about and took for granted. Well, I decided to end my unintended exile and entered the building. There's certainly an Old World charm seeing huge colorful stands selling fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses. But the displays also remind me of depachika in Tokyo, the ubiquitious basement food emporia that are located under every department store. I searched for potential lunch for a few minutes and came across the Carousel Bakery. For me, a lunch at a market entails a hearty sandwich...I guess I see the St. Lawrence as one sprawling delicatessen. In any case, I bought a Veal Parmigiana Sandwich and a Coke. It's not every year that I get to eat veal, and a Veal Parmigiana is as rare in Japan as seeing a Stanley Cup victory in Toronto, even in foodie-friendly Tokyo. The owner of the Carousel offered me a choice of sweet or spicy grilled peppers. I chose the latter and got a mouthful of heat which my Coke barely managed to quench. A very filling lunch and if possible, I'd like to give it one more visit.

Wednesday May 18, 2:58 p.m.

It's been quite the spate of celeb deaths over the past few weeks. First, it was the passing of former aidoru-turned-actress Yoshiko Tanaka, then there was the suicide of tarento Miyu Uehara (man, her story quickly disappeared) and yesterday, a famed actor and quiz show host, Kiyoshi Kodama, has gone to the big numbered board in the sky.

His stock-in-trade was thespianship, but it was his role for over 30 years as the host of "Attack 25" on TV Asahi on Sunday afternoons that he will be remembered for.
His immaculate hotel concierge-like appearance and smooth delivery of the questions made him the Japanese equivalent of Alex Trebek or Bob Barker.

"Attack 25" was unique in Japan as a game show since it was, and is, the only quiz program that had regular folk as contestants. Now that may make you folks back in North America blink a couple of times since that's the usual thing on shows like "The Price is Right" or "Jeopardy". However, here in this country, game shows are almost always populated by tarento or comedians. As one assistant director sneeringly put it in an interview, "Why would we want to have boring old regular people on a game show?" And frankly speaking, non-showbiz Japanese aren't exactly the most entertaining figures as their equivalents are on "Wheel of Fortune". When I've seen "Attack 25", it was almost cringeworthy seeing some of these contestants stiffly try to act jolly in front of the cameras.

Getting back to the late Kodama, it's too bad that we won't see that sage but friendly countenance on the screen anymore. In the current showbiz world of teased hair and maid outfits, someone like Kodama harkens back to a more suave era.

Wednesday May 18, 2:27 p.m.

Frankly, quite a gorgeous day out there. It's a Tokyo Spring Day. The temps are in their mid-20s and the sun is out. Took a couple of photos of my neighbourhood and Minami-Gyotoku Station, my launch point to work and play. It is so warm out there that I had my first had-to-drop-off-at-a-vending-machine-because-I'm-thirsty visit for this year as I was walking from Shinjuku to Speedy's.

Just have 001 today so it's pretty free and easy at the school. I first dropped off at Kinokuniya since I had to grab an Eiken Level 1 text for my lessons with Swank on Fridays. Eiken is the English Proficiency Test for Japanese students, and anyone with a Level 1 certification can fight me for my job. Swank has always just missed out on getting that nosebleed level but every time I see her I kinda feel guilty for taking her money. She's that good. I have basically taken several words from the text and made up some written exercises for her as per her request.

Yesterday, the weather was far more volatile due to some downpours, perhaps appropriate for my first visit to the juku in over 2 months. My job there is frankly all dried up since once again my lone student, Mr. White, has effectively cancelled for the month due to his mental issues. The Milds, The Restauranteur and even that young lady who I'd had a couple of lessons with before the quake have all effectively retired. The Journo may come back in June, though, once he recuperates from his auto accident. Unfortunately for him, he got banged up pretty badly just a few days before the Earthquake of the Century struck Japan, so he must've been pouting a fair bit in the hospital as any chance of covering the story went up in smoke for him.

But it wasn't because of the lack of work, as sad as it is, that I was rather nervous about meeting the boss. Actually, it was because she has decided to no longer continue her guarantorship of my apartment. Over here in this country, to even rent an apartment requires someone of good financial standing to guarantee the renter in writing. This isn't a harassment thing against foreigners; even the natives have to go through it. If, for whatever reason (say, fleeing from a quake zone), the renter can't cover the rent...then the rental agency goes to the guarantor for compensation.

This might sound like a mere inconvenience if this were the case back in North America, but here in Japan, the burden of guarantorship has all the seriousness of getting married. Like it or not, it is a huge responsibility to be one's guarantor, even if in most cases, nothing ever happens during the period of multiple lease renewals. I'd been rejected by Mrs. Travel herself several years ago when I had asked her since at that time, her husband felt that she hadn't known me long enough.

Well, the juku boss apologized profusely several times during the course of my 45 minutes at her house but she plainly told me that because of the quake's effect on her husband's business, she could no longer be my guarantor. I think, morally, the stress of having that responsibility had been weighing too much on her and her hubby. These are uncertain times in the Kanto and, frankly speaking, I couldn't tell her with absolute certainty that I wouldn't have to leave again. However, that now puts me in a bind since I now have to find another guarantor, and really, the only real viable choice is Cozy. And his old friend, the juku boss frankly told me that unless there was something in it for him, he probably won't agree. I never thought that Cozy would be that mercenary. But I have to try. Perhaps what might make it more palatable for him is that I would be leaving here permanently in 7 months....I tried that argument with the boss but it didn't make any difference. Not a good situation, but I was able to get 2 weeks from her to search for a replacement.

However, these days, there are companies available whose business is to guarantee foreign residents when they find a place to live. Finding an apartment from the view of a gaijin is often a very difficult trial-by-fire in this country since some of the smaller mom-and-pop real estate agencies and apartment managers don't want to have anything to do with renting to them due to a few bad apples. And even recently, some apartments that don't require a guarantor have popped up although this may have more to do with the desperation of said agencies and managers to unload way-out-in-the-boonie units more than the goodness of their hearts. In any case, with a little more than half a year left, I don't think they would be an option for me.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday May 16, 5:18 p.m.

Well, as a Whovian, I feel like I should be handing in my TARDIS key in shame right now. I only found out just a few minutes ago that Elisabeth Sladen, aka Sarah Jane Smith, had passed on all the way back on April 19, a day before I was to leave Canada for back here and I've been back for almost a month now. I only found out when I saw a tiny blurb of her passing on "The Doctor Who News Page"....the news has been so old now that it had already been put aside. I think her death is almost as significant as the death of those who played the good Doctor and just as significant as the passing of Nicholas Courtney, who had played the Brigadier, last year. And I can only wonder what will become of "The Sarah Jane Adventures".

All my love to long ago.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Monday May 16, 3:41 p.m.

You can gather that from the number of entries today that I not only have a lot of time on my hand, but I also have eaten a couple of Krispy Kreme donuts. They may be miniature but they still pack a mighty sugar rush.

Anyways, I was uploading some Toronto photos onto my Mixi account so I decided that I'll do the same over here, just for kicks.

Of course, no Toronto album can be complete without the picture of what was once the tallest free-standing structure on the planet...aka The CN Tower. It may no longer have that status, since it has been supplanted by at least two other towers (one of which is Tokyo Sky Tree), but it is still the ultimate Toronto landmark. I might try going up it again; it wouldn't be the glass floor that scares the heck out of me, but the high price of admission.
Monday May 16, 2:20 p.m.

Just finished with Miss Prissy, one of the many students that I've been re-meeting since the earthquake exodus of March/April. She's a bonny lass but her speed hasn't improved any. I've got a couple of more students tonight: Miss Genki and then Kirk. Genki I did meet last week but Kirk will be the first since my return.

On the way over to Speedy's, I stopped off at Krispy Kreme #1 in Shinjuku to pick up a box of Mini-Donuts with a Barbie motif. Had no problem carrying the box in public since it could've been construed as a father bringing back the donuts for the kids. However, this box was in honor of La Fille's final week as an employee at Speedy's. However, Thursday night will be set aside for the official thank-you dinner.
Monday May 16, 12:35 p.m.

As an addendum to the previous "Black Swan" review, I have to wonder what it is about Oscar winners who need to immediately do a bad movie right after getting their award. Is it some form of cathartic release after putting their all into their magnum opus to just slip into something so stupid? Or perhaps it's the point that after dining on the finest French cuisine for months, an actor just feels the need to munch on a Big Mac. Case in point, Natalie Portman doing "Your Highness" with James Franco...who had also been roundly praised for his role in "127 Hours". There was also Sir Anthony Hopkins who ended up doing "Freejack" with Sir Mick Jagger right after his Oscar get for "Silence of the Lambs". And I'm not sure if Cuba Gooding Jr. ever recovered.

Just putting it up there is all.

Monday May 16, 11:46 a.m.

Yup, finally saw "Black Swan" at Roppongi Hills with MB, The Satyr, Skippy, The Sylph and Miss Ivory, aka The Movie Gang, yesterday. And I can totally understand Natalie Portman getting that Best Actress Oscar earlier this year. The cynical among us Oscar watchers feel that to get the golden guy, an actor has to portray a person who is damaged in some way (e.g. Tom Hanks in "Philadelphia" and "Forrest Gump") and has to be in a movie with scenes of screaming ("The King's Speech", "American Beauty"). Well, there was plenty of both to be had in this one.

However, Natalie Portman fulfilled another requirement to earn the Gold. She not only convinced us that she was a ballerina on the edge of a psychotic breakdown but she also made us forget that she had ever been Queen Amidala, and even Mathilda from "Leon". And I guess another requirement has come up...the willingness to get real nasty, if you get my drift, and if you have already seen "Black Swan", you'll know what I mean. Let's say the idea of Queen Amidala getting it on with Meg Griffin is no longer the property of either Peter Griffin or Glenn Quagmire. Oh, r-i-i-i-i-i-ght!

As for the movie itself, it also worked since after watching it, a number of angles came up. For example, the fact that Portman's character of Nina is virtually in every scene made me wonder what was reality and what was fantasy. Even the lipstick-smeared word of "WHORE!" on the mirror in an early scene could've been a hallucination of self-loathing. And I only found out in the closing credits that the entire movie was a modern-day re-telling of "Swan Lake" with all of the main cast playing re-imagined versions of the classic characters. In addition, although I still won't go to a ballet performance, I did learn something about Tchaikovsky's classic. I also thought there was a taste of Faust in "Black Swan" with Nina falling for Thomas' mentoring technique...and for him which reminded me of that poor protagonist's deal with The Devil.

Of all the movies I've seen this year, "Black Swan" has definitely taken the top spot in my estimation, although I would hardly call it a feel-good flick by any means. Even the usually crabby reviewer of METROPOLIS gave it a unanimous rave, which makes it interesting that reviews were surprisingly polarized. Apparently in the rest of the world, reviewers were very much "love it or hate it". Even Leonard Maltin hated the retelling although he loved Natalie. It seems that the Japanese response has been OK although not quite on the Oscar level. I think for one thing, ballet isn't quite the common afterschool activity that it is back in North America...kendo and piano lessons would be more the thing here. Skippy had a somewhat mixed look on her face as we were leaving the theatre.

The next couple of months will see a number of films for The Movie Gang to catch. "Pirates of the Caribbean 4" is up this weekend. Movie Buddy is definitely up for it but The Satyr is very standoffish. And then in a couple of more weeks, "X-Men: First Class" is up to bat. I'm a bit nervous about this one due to the relative failures of "X3" and "Wolverine", the latter of which should've been a home run, but I'm hoping that some of the young top talent and the 60s vibe will bring it up some.

Monday May 16, 11:15 a.m.

Under the current financial circumstances, I'd made a vow to refrain from buying too much that wasn't connected to my job or daily living. However, I did have to make an exception for this album by J-Pop singer Asako Toki. In the J-Pop world of AKB 48 and Arashi, it is nice to find somebody who doesn't go off-tune when he/she makes a dance step or needs to have an ear-splitting battery of synths and guitars backing him/her up.
"Light" is Toki's album of cover songs including Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" and even Rosemary Clooney's "Come-on-a My House". The album title is appropriate since the tunes are delivered in a refreshingly light way thanks to her lilting voice which occasionally dips down into the lower registers. And the album design also evokes the look of albums from the late 70s and 80s in Japan for New Music singers such as EPO and Akiko Yano. In fact, the first track and latest single, "Gift" is an homage to those City Pop tunes....not surprisingly, it was written and composed by the Queen of City Pop (the musical equivalent of American AOR or West Coast pop), EPO.
I think I would recommend this album for play over the speakers during a pleasant Sunday brunch. Hopefully, that won't turn you off.